Africa & World

90,000 South Africans could die in third COVID-19 wave

SOUTH Africa’s largest health-insurance administrator, Discovery Ltd., says the country could record an additional 92,500 Covid-19 deaths by the end of the year if the nation’s vaccine program fails.

In the absence of an effective roll-out of inoculations and restrictions to halt super-spreader events during the Easter holidays in April, 92,500 people could die between February and December, Chief Executive Officer Adrian Gore said in an online presentation on Thursday.

If the effect of super-spreader events is curbed by significant progress in the vaccine program, that number should halve.

“The vaccination program has to be successful and has to be rapid,” Gore said.

The government began administering coronavirus vaccines on Feb. 17, dispensing Johnson & Johnson shots to health workers and top politicians. The process of inoculating two-thirds of the population of 60 million in order to achieve herd immunity may take 12 to 18 months.

The biggest challenge will be ensuring that high-risk groups are vaccinated by mid-winter, according to Gore.

“That would be a big victory,” he said.

With more than 1.5 million known coronavirus infections and almost 50,000 deaths recorded by the Health Ministry since March 2020, South Africa has been hit hardest by the pandemic in Africa.

Discovery has set aside 3.4 billion rand ($231 million) in anticipation of future Covid-19 claims and insurance-policy lapses last year. – Bloomberg 🔺

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